Govt slammed over Hammerl news

2011-05-20 10:03

Johannesburg - The opposition DA on Friday questioned the South African government's role in communicating news about photographer Anton Hammerl.

It emerged on Friday morning that was killed on the day of his capture, more than six weeks ago, despite government assurances that he was safe.

His family only found this out on Thursday evening, after being contacted by two journalists who were with him when he was shot in the Libyan desert.

"It is unclear what the South African government did or did not know. It is, however, simply unfathomable, and difficult to contemplate, that the minister of international relations would have given the family false hope, by claiming Mr Hammerl was still alive, last week," DA leader Helen Zille said.

"It is equally galling that the minister cancelled an emergency meeting on this matter because, in the words of department spokesperson, Clayson Monyela, she had 'election commitments'."

The minister was expected to address the media on the matter in Pretoria on Friday morning.

Zille said that "in the immediate aftermath of this sort of terrible news our focus must fall on the family and friends, but profoundly serious questions need to be asked of Minister Nkoana-Mashabane, and indeed President Jacob Zuma, in the weeks to come".

'Unbelievable trauma'

The Hammerl family released a statement in the early hours of Friday morning saying they had been informed Hammerl had been shot on April 5.

"On 5 April 2011 Anton was shot by (Muammar) Gaddafi's forces in an extremely remote location in the Libyan desert. According to eyewitnesses, his injuries were such that he could not have survived without medical attention.

"Words are simply not enough to describe the unbelievable trauma the Hammerl family is going through," the statement read.

"From the moment Anton disappeared in Libya we have lived in hope as the Libyan officials assured us that they had Anton. It is intolerably cruel that Gaddafi loyalists have known Anton's fate all along and chose to cover it up."

Hammerl, who used to work for The Star newspaper, was initially reported to have been captured by militia loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi near Brega on April 5.

Hammerl's wife Penny Sukraj was told by American journalists Clare Morgana Gillis and James Foley of the shooting. The pair had been released from Libyan custody and spoke to her from Tunisia on Thursday night.

They were with Hammerl when they came under fire in the Libyan desert near the town of Brega. Hammerl was shot in the stomach, according to family friend Bronwyn Friedlander.


She said assurances of Hammerl's capture in Libya, apparently given to the South African and Austrian governments, were "incredibly cruel".

Last week The Star quoted Nkoana-Mashabane as saying the South African government had proof that he was alive. However on Wednesday international relations and co-operation department spokesperson Clayson Monyela denied the report saying; "That issue of the minister's quote was not captured correctly."

Last month well known photographers Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros were killed after coming under fire in the besieged Libyan town of Misrata.

  • saabnut - 2011-05-20 10:10

    What an tragic turn of events for his family, having been given false hope. I really feel for them. Shame on this disgraceful government and all its inept, incompetent cadres.

      saabnut - 2011-05-20 10:11

      Oh, yes, and the minister was quoted incorrectly. AGAIN..........................

      Mike - 2011-05-20 10:22

      And yet "we" keep this incompetence in power! Disgusting. Makes me sick to the stomach.

      Grynch - 2011-05-20 11:01

      What happens if the SA Govt were told by the Libyan authorities that he was alive? You couldn't accuse them of incompetence then could you?

      Refilwemu - 2011-05-20 11:05

      what was he doing there in the first place, i guess he got what he was looking for

      AJ - 2011-05-20 11:11

      @Refilwemu: I dont think he was looking to get shot in the stomach and die thousands of km's away from his family actually, so I beg to differ with you there. There are lots of dangerous professions out there Refilwemu. You may not feel anything for the victim of this particular job, but there are also ones that would affect you severely if they were unstaffed, i.e. if men and women did not step up and perform them. I think, when it comes down to it, I'm telling you to grow up.

      Pencilgraffiti - 2011-05-20 13:19

      Chiefbambath - Please read before commenting. Refilwemu - If it wasn't for people like the Bang Bang Club, the international community might never have put sanctions on SA and forced the NP's Apartheid regime to step down. These people give their lives for their work so YOU can see pretty lil pictures on News24's website and know what's really going on in the world. Your disrespect is pathetic

  • nn.prv - 2011-05-20 10:12

    condolences to the family

  • Lab-Rat - 2011-05-20 10:19

    Can't say I'm surprised at anything this incompetant evil government does anymore.

  • Nawe - 2011-05-20 10:21

    Zille, Zuma & the minister only relayed info as they received. We've all gathered the gov didn't send Anton to libya, so why blame them now? Was the minister supposed to have gone there herself? What exactly do u guys want from this Gov? We're all sadened by the passing of Anton but i think these cheap political points are unfounded.

      ariete - 2011-05-20 10:24

      You clearly have no understanding of the obligations of a government to its citizens in distress in a foreign clime. My condolences to Anton's family and friends.

      lynnea.gough - 2011-05-20 10:25

      until its your family out there..... then you'll change your tune.

      Mr Mike - 2011-05-20 10:25

      what if this happened to your father??????

      bumblebee - 2011-05-20 10:27

      We only want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!!

      Meerkatjie - 2011-05-20 10:28

      So Nawe, say for instance that you have been captured sitting in a jail somewhere dont you think that your government must try everything in its power to secure your release, especially if you are not at fault, think Nawe THINK, this government is only protecting its own elitist group!

      Christo - 2011-05-20 10:28

      As the Government, they should have been in talks with the Libyan government (or lack thereof) to have any SA citizen released. This is what most governments do. They are supposed to look after the citizens. Not put election commitments over someone's life.

      Bloodbane - 2011-05-20 10:29

      @Nawe mister was supposed to do her job and confirm proof of live and demnad in the harshed terms info be sent to her... she did F'all because she is too damn stupid lazy and incompetant. JZ the useless prick went to see gadafi, he should have made it apsolutly clear to him gadafi that we want proof of live and we want him returned... but JZ is and incompetant twit and did stuff all.

      saabnut - 2011-05-20 10:31

      Wake up Nawe! We are not blaming the government for his death, but for the insensitivity of saying that they had PROOF that he was still alive, when he was already dead. Then again, they also had incontrovertable PROOF that showerhead wasn't guilty of corruption. Makes one think...

      ismael.shipanga - 2011-05-20 10:38

      you such a complete idiot, shut you brar mouth if you don't anything about journalism.

      Niknac - 2011-05-20 10:39

      Well said

      Peter - 2011-05-20 10:39

      Have to agree the place was a war zone at the time leader was busy bombing his own citizens, he's not going to bother to inform South Africa, we are insignificant to them, not that I support South African government just don't see what they could have done here.

      Peter - 2011-05-20 10:48

      I'm sure Libya's government was not even functioning at the time, unless we sent troops into that war zone. condolences to the family but that's the risk you take when you go into a a country were at the time law and order does not exist. I don't like the government for many reasons but this is not 1 of them.

      James - 2011-05-20 10:53

      "Nawe" ...... your a wanker .........

      Mike Hoxbig - 2011-05-20 10:58

      Nawe you're right about the cheap political points. That's why the minister cancelled an emergency meeting because she had election commitments. Pathetic

      Gary - 2011-05-20 12:16

      I work for Consular services for a foreign country and when a request like this comes through, everything is dropped. You don't go on hearsay. SA Gov has some damage control to do, they cocked up and relied on info from a 3rd party without confirming jack.

      tsmit3 - 2011-05-20 12:48

      Its not about what they were told its about the apparent proof that they had. Its not cheaps points its a valid question dingbat.

  • nick - 2011-05-20 10:25

    If he was black it would be another story.Condolences to his family.

      ShanMo - 2011-05-20 10:37

      Oh Nick... there has to be one tosser who brings race into it. I readd these comments amazed that everyone had managed to look at this for the tragedy that it is..... glad that no idot tried to score points through racialising this.... and then came Nick! twat!

      sefeddt - 2011-05-20 10:40

      I disagree, the ANC gvt is incompetent no matter the race

      daaivark - 2011-05-20 10:53

      Crap Nick. Slither back under your rock.

  • Janine - 2011-05-20 10:25

    "That issue of the minister's quote was not captured correctly" - what a joke. There is a big difference between saying "We know that this person is still alive" and "We know that this person is dead". I'm so sick of this backpeddling - why doesn't some brave person stand up and admit to Anton's family that this whole thing was handled in a disgusting manner. The minister should hang her head in shame.

      saabnut - 2011-05-20 10:32

      Sorry to disappoint you Janine, but hanging one's head in shame is somthing a cadre is incapable of...

      Kiff - 2011-05-20 10:45

      "Sorry seems NOT to be the hardest word", ANC is used to that word.

      Koos - 2011-05-20 13:17

      what about AuSTRIA? why blame lie entirely on our gov?he was living in britain, was he working for s.a gov. why other nation who journalist we captered din't rescue them straight away.

      Nifty - 2011-05-20 14:45

      @Janine. Ya, it's also amazing that if the minister was misquoted last week that they hadn't rushed then at that stage right after publication of his words to correct what he had said. Suddenly, now that Hammerl is reported dead do they claim the minister was convenient...

  • Craig44 - 2011-05-20 10:26

    Te fog of War can cause uncertaincy, add that to a useless gov official that is only interested in electioneering instead of the welfare of the people... It's terminal cANCer

  • zulufox - 2011-05-20 10:27

    slam the govt all you want. SA govt never killed anybody, and they were lied to Gaddafi gov... fact of the matter is that nothing said or done could have saved Hammerl, he was at the whim of mad Libyan soldiers... of course some people wil use this tragedy to lambast the ANC govt and score political points, sick people... Go on... it won't make you any better than Gaddafi's murderous regime!

      Jacques Jones - 2011-05-20 10:34

      zulufox you are right the goverment was lied to and still they will slam the un for attacking libiya and defend gaddafi's regime. so i'll give them the benefit of the doubt for being lied to but the fact remains that they will continue to support a dictator.

      saabnut - 2011-05-20 10:34

      They were lied to, and misquoted, and taken out of context, blah, blah, blah. Colonialist prpaganda. Shame on you too for supporting them!

      saabnut - 2011-05-20 10:36

      And whilst you are talking of sick people, zulufox, how sick is BLOWING R300 million on repatriating an already deceased person, whilst your brothers and sisters starve in winter???

      zulufox - 2011-05-20 10:39

      @Jacques Jones, how did SA support the Gaddafi, they voted in favour of the no-fly zone... I don't understand your take on this...

      Jacques Jones - 2011-05-20 10:42

      zulu same way they support mugabe by doing sweet blue f*ck all and taking this "quiet diplomacy" route. that is nothing short of barbaric.

      zulufox - 2011-05-20 10:44

      @Jacques Jones, this is not about Mugabe...

      Mike - 2011-05-20 10:44

      Indeed slam the ANC government!!!!! Nkoana-Mashabane was quoted as having proof of Hammerl still being alive. The issue of that possibly being miss quoted or whatever has never been raised until today! Why? Why was his family given false hope by this? The ANC government WAS involved and privy to this alleged misinformation of having proof of him still being alive - even if just through the media, unless they live under a rock and should right at that time set the record straight IF it was false. Why only now? Yet only today they claim "Wasn't me, it's all lies" - the tired old stance, while people, families hurt. Now that, my friend is sick!

      Kiff - 2011-05-20 10:49

      @ zulufox - did you not see the number of weapons sold to Lybia by our government, the minister stating "we have proof that he is alive". Is this not good enough for you? Nah, the ANC can probably do no wrong.

      Jacques Jones - 2011-05-20 10:54

      no it is about our foreign policies vs our commitment to OUR people. so whether zim libiya or any other country for that matter our goverment simply does not care about OUR people they are only interested in their own agendas. they do not care about human rights only in who supported them back in the day regardless of whether that 'someone' has become a murderer.

      zulufox - 2011-05-20 10:54

      @Kiff, South Africa had no knowledge of a future uprising and cannot be blamed for the weapon sales.

  • Pieter - 2011-05-20 10:28

    No-good editing... "Friday morning that was killed"...

  • willieman - 2011-05-20 10:32

    SA should cut ties with dictators in the continent,then we can start to talk about african solution for african problems.Anton paid the ultimate prize because our goverment supported no fly zone in Libya.Wrong decision

  • Tantrum - 2011-05-20 10:35

    I wonder were is the proof the useless SA goverment had. How low will the ANC go to get a couple of votes ???

      daaivark - 2011-05-20 10:56

      ANd in which way would this have affected voting? Don't be silly now, please.

      James - 2011-05-20 10:56

      Shows you Tantrum ..... ANC is for the Old people or should I say for the low IQ people, people that is easily conned ..... feed them bullsh*t and they vote ANC ......

  • jou_ma_se - 2011-05-20 10:38

    How the F@ck does this get pinned on SA Government? Dude went into the middle of a civil war, and got killed... and now the KKK, i mean DA get another bitching session? BLAME the Libyan government for supplying the 'BS' assurance! The Hammerl family does, and not once mentioned the ANC! The gutter mentality displayed by the DA and their followers are the only reason they'll never run this country. Condolences to the family.

      thebee - 2011-05-20 10:47

      Read the article again. The government had "proof" he was still alive when in fact he was killed weeks before. Now they are scrambling to do damage control and say that the minister was misquoted? Ja right. Incompetant, lying bunch.

      ShanMo - 2011-05-20 10:49

      Jo ma - The south african government is the ANC - if you hadnt noticed! Chop

      James - 2011-05-20 10:58

      See what I mean ..... ANC = Low IQ ....... look at your username, your comments and your argument ...... I rest my case ......... :-)

  • Sputs - 2011-05-20 10:40

    when he went to libya recently, is it known if jz raised the matter of Hammerl with gaddafi?

      daaivark - 2011-05-20 11:05

      Much as one sympathises with the man's family, one must accept that this is an occupational hazard for the press photographer. He is not the first South African photographer to be killed in a war zone. Bullets fly about in such situations, and a photographer can choose whether he wants to get that prize-winning pic of the action (and run the risks involved), or not. If one has issues with swimming one should avoid water. If anyone is to blame for his death, other than the soldiers or himself, it is the newspaper that sent him there. For instance, if one chooses a military career, one makes a choice to be in situations in which people shoot at you. The lack of interest displayed by our diplomats, is indeed shocking, though. Surely someone could have let with the colleagues in prison.

  • Nawe - 2011-05-20 10:40

    The only time the ANC gov will ever get accolades from the majority of the white populatin is when they bring the cricket & rugby w/c to this country only. No one can proof Zuma didn't enquire about Anton wellbeing when he met Gadaffi. You guys are just looking for excuses to cause racial tensions! We're all sadened by the passing of Anton. All the minister could do is speak to her counterpart & she relayed the info as given. What happened to Anton is sad! you guys are just been been bitter & stupid by blaming the GOV, The Gov tried & it was lied to... A South African Soldier is down & that's sad!

      James - 2011-05-20 11:00

      "Nawe" ...... your are just making sure we all know your a "Wanker" .... :-)

      daaivark - 2011-05-20 11:06

      A photographer.

      Nigel_Brown - 2011-05-20 12:43

      True that Nawe. Going into a war zone at your own risk, you are aware of the danger involved. This ish happens all the time, it sucks. This has nothing to do with our Goverment, it about journalism and war zones. At least he was doing what he liked when he died.

  • waine - 2011-05-20 10:42

    DA, I support you, but for goodness sakes you cannot score political point with this article. I can make lots of money by working in Iraq, but I am well aware of the risks of being blown up by a suicide bomber. With the greatest of respect to the family of Hammeri, if one wants to report from a war zone then one must take the risks with the glory.

      daaivark - 2011-05-20 11:06


  • Lisa - 2011-05-20 10:42

    The ANC government would not release the news before the elections. They are big supporters of Gaddaffi and his regime... they have voiced their support of their brother and comrade Gaddaffi. Once again they have failed the people of SA.... For 6 weeks they have put the family through trauma... May the Family of Anton find peace and closure...

      saabnut - 2011-05-20 11:28

      The real truth, not the crap that they feed the electorate- well said!!!

      Oscar - 2011-05-20 11:49

      I dont want to believed elections they hold information.

      chiefbambath - 2011-05-20 13:01

      Even if they released it before the elections, who the hell is the guy anyway?

  • Ali - 2011-05-20 10:43

    These undisputed universal retarded idiots in the cabinet should have double-checked before they vomit gal. Well, we are not suprised. U cant expect pity from those who have none!

  • gniemandt - 2011-05-20 10:43

    The minister is obviously not qualified to do his job! Did he even know how to persue this?

      sicelon - 2011-05-20 12:02

      The minister is a she bud!

  • bosegoos - 2011-05-20 10:45

    Another pathetic performance by the Minister of International Relations and her staff. This is one of the key Departments which require more than just a cadre to head it - why is the President always appoointing incapable persons (apparently as a reward for their services in the stuggle)instead of getting an academic or professional diplomat to lead.

  • gniemandt - 2011-05-20 10:46

    Condolences to the Hammerl family.

  • crocoros - 2011-05-20 10:47

    It is an absolute disgrace that the South African Government did nothing to investigate or communicate with Libyan authorities whether Anoton Hammerl was alive or not

      Koos - 2011-05-20 13:28

      Tell which gov is communicating with Libyan gov right now, the Nato are busy bombing,this has nothing to do with Gov

  • thuthukag - 2011-05-20 10:49

    People here are so fixated on their hatred for the ruling party and those who vote for them that all sense and reason flies out the window. Media doesn't help such people, but feeds on their ridiculous sense of logic. There are things the government may or may have not done, but these are the facts: 1. You have no real idea of governments efforts, or lack thereof, therefore your premature judgement of the situation has the same taste as how quickly you all call for the death penalty upon a person who has not yet been trialled. (Who do you think you are?) 2. The government dindn't kill this man, nor wished death upon him 3. The person/people who shot him are the only guilty party, before law and God. 4. His work in Libya was not government mandated 5. He is dead, and no amount of finger pointing will bring him back. He knew the risks, and so did his kin. 6. We do not know if Zille herself would have left the campaign for this supposed "emergency meeting" as her duty is to more than one person. These are the facts. Each article published here today was inconsistant. Also, if the people he was with chose to keep quiet until Thursday night, how else was SA to know he was dead except from info they received over period leading to the release of these reporters? Get over yourselves.

      King Solomon - 2011-05-20 10:59

      Insensitive W**ker!

      Andrea Naude - 2011-05-20 11:23

      Oh for heavens sake - the Minister did not do her job at all. Wake up and find out WHAT she is suppose to do when A CITIZEN OF SOUTH AFRICA is in danger or missing in another country. Asseblief man.

      thuthukag - 2011-05-20 11:26

      That's harsh "King Solomon". Anyway, there was an artilce titled "Anton Hammerl 'was shot in Libyan desert'", in which I expressed my sincerest condolences, IN THE CONTEXT OF THE ARTICLE. This one is about something else, and in its CONTEXT, I expressed some facts. It's not that I am insensitive to what the poor family is going through. I am merely commenting in context. You have validated some of my points, so see last sentence of my comment. PS: Name calling is not a particulary effective form of communication.

      Nigel_Brown - 2011-05-20 12:47

      Spot on.

  • cheekyroman - 2011-05-20 10:50

    mmmm What else is be kept from us???? Like the Zimbabwe voting results mmmmmm

      saabnut - 2011-05-20 11:34

      Or the arms deal...

      Horza - 2011-05-20 13:04


      chiefbambath - 2011-05-20 13:29

      Or ET beeing a paedophiler! mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  • Heiress - 2011-05-20 11:16

    i do sypathise with family going through bereavement but this man went to lybia on his own account, he was not sent by SA Gov for any civic duty. Afterall this is the same man who had dual citizenship, this indicates he had no devotion to SA why should we care for him? He went there on his own so why should yall blame our goverment? you guys are twisted

      myopinion - 2011-05-20 12:24

      Why should we care? Um, Well maybe because it is a human life that has been lost. What does it matter what citizenship he held, the fact is he was born in SA. There are many many expats who love and care about SA, a fair amount more than our government does it would seem. Yes he went there on his own accord, but I can asure you, not to die.

      Oscar - 2011-05-20 12:28

      Next time can you or me or one of you family. a gov has a responsibility of there people even if they have dual citizenship. When is election time politic take other course. Reagan elections Iran times. etc

  • sicelon - 2011-05-20 11:16

    @ ariete, and you clearly do not have an understanding of International Relations. It happens to all citizens of all countries all over the world. Just because, unfortunately some whites in this country have a gripe with the ANC anything that happens is the gov's fault. The SA gov does not have a police force, or any forces in Libya, and before you travel anywhere, work or otherwise and contact the gov, you will be advised of places to stay clear off. Unfortunately due to the nature of his work Mr Hammerl had to go there. He was a brave man who looked to bring us the truth. Many reporters have died in the line of duty. To blame our gov for this is absurd and uncalled for. If you want a diff gov vote for it. This is a democracy and the majority is happy with this government. I am.

  • Philip - 2011-05-20 11:44

    My condolences go out to the Hammerl family. No matter what the info was that was fed back, be it in election, or no election, it does not change the fact that he died in Libya. And as so many respondents quite rightly point out, the SA government did not send him there, and who are we to speculate on the "proof" that was fed to them. I do however take offense to the fact that a person in a position commanding some level of responsibility could choose an election over something that is by far more important - human life. Surely, the day before an election you have done your homework, and have allowed for things such as crisis meetings involving what is your job - foreign policy. It saddens me that the fat cats of the ANC have lost complete touch with the ordinary citizens, and I am ashamed to be in a country where human lives can be traded in for political points. Where and when did they stop caring about their citizens? On the same token, I am ashamed that my beloved DA could lower themselves to the levels of their political rivals. Fact is, Hammerl's family are mourning, and the last thing on their minds right now is what the correct diplomatic protocol was. For every person playing a race card here, I hope you know that you have absolutely zero taste, and even worse, that you lack the tact and compassion necessary in the family's time of mourning.

  • motsokwane - 2011-05-20 12:21

    da members are now disowning him, now that he is dead.He was going to be called a da hero if he managed to get the pictures of Africans being shot.ANC or RSA did not mandate the guy to go there how can they be blamed for someone who knew the risks of entering a war zone.He knew that the possibilities of not returning were high.

      ONETIME - 2011-05-20 13:18

      The fact is not if he was mandated or not. That is his job and he is the resonsability of the South African Government as a citizen. (This will never change) The Government did not want to upset their Aparthied allies that is all, instead of being vocal when it is need. See how often they have a go at Isreal and yet will say nothing to Zim or their old allies when they do wrong. Double Standards...

      chiefbambath - 2011-05-20 13:34

      @ONETIME. Is huntley our responsibility?, this guy was just another Huntley rubishing our country in england, he was not a resident of this country period and this will also never change. he is dead and please dont blame this on malema for singing kill the boer song!

  • silverflash - 2011-05-20 12:51

    Dont be a Chop Bru ! THe Goverment was just trying to get their facts straight before making a official statement

  • silverflash - 2011-05-20 12:55

    u guys here have no clue as to what procedures has to be followed ,when statements are released . please educate yourself's in this regards before u make ur name ass.....

  • Horza - 2011-05-20 13:00

    Let us remember that it is not the government that sent Hammerl to his death.

  • ONETIME - 2011-05-20 13:10

    Blame the ANC and yet the masses vote for them

      chiefbambath - 2011-05-20 13:35

      The more racist like you insults the ANC, the more we will vote for them, get it.

  • ONETIME - 2011-05-20 13:15

    They are to busy giving NATO gas instead of telling off their "Ally" to get a live and stop killing your own people. I would hate to know what they would do if the masses decided enough and get out. Would they resort to the same violence... More than likely.

  • Sisie - 2011-05-20 13:15

    This is what happens when you sleep with the devil - as the ANC does. They waited and procrastinated while Zuma and team were kissing ar*e with Gadaffi. Now get the Fu**er and shoot him, oh and while you are about it there is another group that needs to be f***Ed up - and the gang leader is Zuma - stupid git.

  • silverflash - 2011-05-20 13:54

    Eish this blog is overflowing with chops as usual .. lol Cant we have a decent educated debate ?

      Funda - 2011-05-20 14:33

      @ Chiefbambath. Reading this whole conversation is interesting. I have to marvel at the way you try and add a racist comment at every opportunity. I think you do not like being ignored, but it is what you deserve. If you have nothing sensible to add, learn to keep quiet...

      chiefbambath - 2011-05-20 14:59

      If thats the way you address your mother child, then im not your mother!

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